The “Chant d’Oiseau” in Cotonou hosted on Thursday 16 February 2023, a public debate organized by the Institute of Artisans of Justice and Peace (IAJP). This first quarterly meeting focused on the theme “Crisis prevention in a post-electoral context: Responsibility of civil society organisations and politicians”. The panel invited to analyse this theme is composed of Nourou-Dine Saka Saley, a legal consultant and member of the political party The Democrats; Dr Jacques Richard Codjo, a legal specialist in public law and representative of the Union Progressiste le Renouveau (UPR) party; and Léonard Hyppolyte d’Almeida, President of Amnesty International.
The first public debate organised by the Institute of Artisans of Justice and Peace (IAJP) is part of the commemoration of its 25 years of existence. The aim is to create a space for debate on human and urban issues. This is in line with the vision of the founding fathers through the Social Doctrine of the Church.
According to Nourou-Dine Saka Saley, a legal consultant and member of the The Democrats party, Benin has not experienced any post-election crises. Instead, he spoke of repressions of political protest that are recorded as was the case in the 2019 legislative elections. With regard to the political reforms carried out since 2016, Nourou-Dine Saka Saley believes that they are not in fact a source of contestation. “The real problem lies in the implementation of these reforms,” the politician said.
The electoral cycle, the panacea for solving electoral crises
The prevention and resolution of electoral crises starts from the electoral cycle, said Dr Jacques Richard Codjo, a lawyer specialising in public law and representative of the ”Union Progressiste le Renouveau” (UPR) party. In order to do this, it is necessary to re-scan some key elements of the electoral cycle. These include the legal context, the existing political party charter, the financing of political parties, the status of the leader of the opposition and the electoral code.
Civil society called for more responsibility
Civil society is an important link in the prevention of post-election crises. But in Benin, it appears to have been dormant for a decade. This situation is deplored by Léonard Hyppolyte d’Almeida, President of Amnesty International. However, it recognises some efforts that are being made by civil society and that need to be strengthened so that civil society can fully play its pioneering role.
The session was honoured by the presence of several personalities
The debate initiated on Thursday 16 February by the IAJP was massively attended by political and administrative, religious and civil society figures. Among others, Monseigneur Antoine Ganyé, archbishop emeritus of Cotonou, former minister Ganiou Soglo, government spokesman Wilfried Léandre Houngbédji.
For Professor Léon Bio Bigou, the 1990 Conference of the Living Forces of the Nation has certainly restored Benin’s image, but the integral multiparty system is the evil that has corrupted all political efforts. He welcomed the new reform of the party system and took the opportunity to warn about some of the pitfalls of public funding of political parties. Professor Léon Bio Bigou suggested that post-vote counting should be done by polling centre and on the spot.
For his part, the Honourable El-Hadj Yacoubou Malèhossou, President of the Malèhossou Foundation, recalled the many actions carried out before the legislative elections of 8 January 2023. In total, nearly 55 of the 77 communes have been visited to raise awareness of human values and the culture of peace, said the president of the Malèhossou Foundation. “We do it for the common cause. We are proud to work for God in promoting peace.
IAJP officials satisfied after first quarterly debate
Very impressed by the quality of the debate between the panellists and the rich contributions of the audience, Abbé Éric Aguénounon, Director of the IAJP, expressed his gratitude to the various actors who responded to the call. “We are very happy to see that the Beninese, despite their differences, know how to sit around the same table to consult and debate on what is in the supreme interest of the nation,” said Abbé Éric Aguénounon, Director of the IAJP. He was satisfied that the target had been reached. This was an opportunity for him to announce a series of workshops for the month of March. An innovation of the IAJP to involve all layers in the debate. “We will stop being spectators and become actors and artisans of our lives, of a Benin whose future will be radiant,” concluded Abbé Éric Aguénounon, Director of the IAJP.